You can sure tell the Stanley Cup Playoffs are approaching as stress levels seem to be on the rise just about everywhere.
Cripes, it was stressful just putting this section together this week!
“They’re athletes; they’re in the NHL. C’mon. Like one guy said once; ‘This is not pressure. Playoffs are not pressure. It’s having four kids and no money, that’s pressure.’”
-- Minnesota Wild
coach Jacques Lemaire
“We all know the importance of every game and I want to be a part of that. I don’t want to miss out on any opportunities to help my team and help my team get into the playoffs. Not one.”
-- Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo
“I heard somebody say he might not be a top goaltender at playoff time, but I believe he’s a top goaltender in the National Hockey League now. I think he gives us as good a chance as most goaltenders do give their team in the League now.”
-- Senators GM-coach Bryan Murray on Martin Gerber
“Absolutely. Not how they got away from us, but how we started both games. We were flat. The emotion this time of year should be ramping up, and it’s not for our team. … We need a better effort from everybody.”
-- Philadelphia Flyers
GM Paul Holmgren
after his team dropped back-to-back games against the Maple Leafs.
“I think it’s a realization we understand the situation we’re in and the scenario we’re in. This is a crucial point in the schedule, but a lot can happen over 12 games . . . surely in hockey history there have been teams over the last 10, 12 games that have struggled and ended up missing the playoffs. So a lot can happen. It’s just that there’s not as many games to be played, so consequently each one becomes more and more crucial, more vital. So we know the situation we’re in, and we’ve got to be ready to go.”
-- Phoenix Coyotes
coach Wayne Gretzky
“We’re not doing ourselves any favors by not winning. But looking at the scores, we’re not getting any help either. We were in a position where we controlled our own destiny, and I still think we are because all those teams (in the Northwest Division) are playing each other and they’ve got to lose points somewhere along the way. We’ve just got to win games and concentrate on getting our points.’’
-- Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis
“To be how close we were a few weeks ago and to be where we are now is frustrating. Until we’re mathematically out, the guys in this room are going to keep pushing hard. Nobody is ready to lay down and die yet. We’ve got a great attitude in this room.”
-- Islanders rookie Blake Comeau
“We’re playing not to lose, which is defeatist in itself. It’s never going to work. You can micromanage and analyze it, but it comes down to attitude and what it takes to win a hockey game. Right now we don’t have it.”
-- Sabres goalie Ryan Miller
“He’s a real gifted, gifted offensive player. Real good centerman. Plays well on the back end on the power play. Can play the wing. Can penalty kill. He’s a gifted guy, and I think what people say about him is that the bigger the game, the better he plays.”
-- Red Wings coach Mike Babcock on Dallas’ Brad Richards
“What impresses me is their depth. All four lines. They get contributions from their whole lineup. Before it was one line and if you shut them down, you had a good chance to win. They’re a better team than they were the last few years. I’m definitely surprised.”
-- Martin Brodeur
on the Montreal Canadiens
“We’ve really galvanized as a group to find a way to do things and get points. That speaks volumes for their character.”
-- Rangers coach Tom Renney
“You’ve got to in this League be able to play without good players occasionally. Just play like a team, work hard, defend better than we have ... let the chips fall where they may at that point in time.”
-- Ottawa Senators
coach Bryan Murray
“We have to have the courage to play. We have to have the courage to take people on one-on-one. We have to have the courage to move the puck. To me, we sat back and played the old rope-a-dope for 60 minutes.”
-- Flyers coach John Stevens
after his team blew a 3-0 lead and lost to Toronto on Tuesday.
“Right now, I think most teams would put us up there as a tough team to beat in a seven-game series. I think teams load up, whether it’s size or whatever they feel they need. They’re thinking that we need to be able to withstand a seven-game series grind, and it might have to be against the Ducks. We’re built for that.”
-- Ducks defenseman Sean O’Donnell
“It’s fantastic. The staff is the best in the League. It’s the best facility. The best plane. The best food on the plane. The best workout facilities. The best coaches.”
-- Rangers backup goalie Stephen Valiquette
loves New York.
“We’ve simplified our game the last couple of nights. And it has worked for us. If we keep it simple and work hard -- we have a lot of talent in here -- if we do that, it usually works out for us.”
-- Senators forward Dany Heatley
“No doubt he’s been as good as he can be right now. The toughest task he has is that he can’t go out and score goals for us. (Sunday) was that example: shutting a team down for the whole game, getting a shutout, but taking a loss in the loss column. He’s given us a chance. I think it’s up to us to give him a little bit of help up front and find some ways to score some goals.”
-- Bruins coach Claude Julien
on goalie Alex Auld
after Sunday’s shootout loss to the Rangers, where Auld held the Rangers scoreless in regulation and overtime.
“This has been one of those years. We’ve have a lot of injuries to deal with. But we’ve managed to stay afloat and we’ve got to keep doing that because nobody is going to feel any pity for you in the NHL.”
-- Colorado Avalanche
forward Andrew Brunette
“Athletes in general, but especially guys like me who have been around a long time, you can relate to (Brett Favre’s) feelings and what his thoughts were. Everybody else might wonder why he would walk away from that, wonder why he wouldn’t have the energy to pick himself up and keep doing it. But players understand that. When he was up there speaking, I knew exactly where he was coming from.”
-- Dallas Stars
veteran Mike Modano
on the retirement of NFL quarterback Brett Favre.
“I think we do play, in a lot of areas, pretty similar. He was more of the go-in-the-corner-and-dig-it-out kind of player. I try to do that stuff, too, but — and I think he’d tell you the same thing — I have a little more of a scoring touch than he did.”
-- New Jersey forward Zach Parise
comparing his game to that of his father, former NHLer J.P. Parise.
“You want to play with a mean streak; you want to play with an edge out there, but at the same time you want to be under control and tough to play against. You’re looking for a happy medium. You have to be on the edge, trying to find out how far you can push it. Sometimes, you’re going to be called for penalties. But you get to know the referees. They’re always talking to you and you learn what you can do and what you can’t.”
-- Canadiens defenseman Mike Komisarek
“It’s an extremely tight race. You can’t afford to lose one or two. Every point is so important. We are trying to look at that as close as we can because it can easily slip away. There are no nights off. We always talk about it in the room. There is no rink you can go in and steal two points.”
-- Nashville captain Jason Arnott
“We need to try to solve that position. We’re trying to figure out Smitty and we’re trying to figure out where Ramo is in his progression. Ramo has had a long year with the high ankle sprain and then we felt like we were still in the hunt at a point in time and bringing him up. For a 21-year-old kid to come into a losing situation and have the injury he had and just hasn’t played a whole bunch, I think he’s handled himself very well. We want to win, there’s no question we want to win. But in that situation we have to figure out what we have with those two guys as we move forward here.”
-- Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella on getting answers to his team’s goaltending for the future.
Material from personal interviews, wire services, newspaper, and league and team sources was used in this report.